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C-type lectins: Immune Regulators, Immunology PhD (Funded)

   College of Life and Environmental Sciences

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  Prof G Brown, Dr Janet Willment  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

The MRC Centre for Medical Mycology (MRC CMM) is a world-leading research centre at the University of Exeter, spanning both the College of Life and Environmental Sciences (CLES) and the College of Medicine and Health (CMH) that is helping to tackle the major global threats to human health caused by fungal diseases. The MRC CMM hosts an interdisciplinary group of internationally renowned scientists who study both the host immune response and the fungal pathogen, and is one of the largest such Centres in the world. The mission of the Centre is to facilitate pioneering cross-disciplinary research to substantially advance our understanding of life-threatening fungal infections. These advances will impact patient lives through improved prevention, diagnosis and treatment of fungal diseases in the future.


The University of Exeter’s MRC Centre for Medical Mycology is inviting applications for a fully-funded PhD studentship to commence in September 2022 or as soon as possible thereafter. This award provides annual funding for eligible UK or UK-resident students to cover Home tuition fees in full and a tax-free stipend of at least £15,609 per year for 4 years of full-time study, or pro rata for part-time study.  

Please note: the conditions for eligibility of home fees status are complex and you will need to seek advice if you have moved to or from the UK (or Republic of Ireland) within the past 3 years or have applied for settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme

Non-UK/UK-resident students are also eligible to apply, but should be aware that this award will only cover part of the international tuition fees and no stipend, so they will need to secure additional funding. International applicants will also have to cover the cost of their student visa, healthcare surcharge and other costs of moving to the UK to do a PhD.

Project Description:

Our understanding of the mechanisms of protective immunity against fungi lags behind those of other microbes, even though these pathogens infect billions of individuals every year and kill more people than tuberculosis or malaria. The discovery that fungi were recognised by the C-type lectin receptor, Dectin-1, represented a major advance in this area. This breakthrough led to considerable interest in C-type lectin receptors (CLR) and over the two decades we have learned much about the functions of CLRs and their signalling pathways (see PMID: 29581532). Indeed, we have discovered that myeloid-expressed CLRs can function as archetypical pattern recognition receptors driving numerous innate responses and the development of adaptive immunity. Importantly, we have shown that CLRs and their signalling pathways are essential for protective antimicrobial immunity in mammals, but we are only just beginning to understand how CLRs mediate their functions in vitro and in vivo. Such knowledge offers huge potential in terms of understanding disease susceptibility, immunotherapy and vaccination. 

The Wellcome Trust has funded Professor Gordon Brown with an Investigator Award to gain a better understanding of the roles of CLRs in immunity. The PhD project on offer is part of this award and would focus on exploring recently discovered and unpublished immune functions driven by CLRs which are required for protective anti-microbial immunity, autoimmunity and homeostasis. We are therefore looking for a motivated and ambitious PhD student to help tackle this exciting project.

Entry Requirements

Applicants for this studentship must have obtained, or be about to obtain, a First or Upper Second Class UK Honours degree, or the equivalent qualifications gained outside the UK, in an appropriate area of science or technology. 

If English is not your first language you will need to have achieved at least 6.5 in IELTS and no less than 6.0 in any section by the start of the project. 

Alternative tests may be acceptable (see

How to apply

In order to formally apply for the PhD Project you will need to go to the following web page.

The closing date for applications is Monday 28th February 2022.

If you have any general enquiries about the application process please email [Email Address Removed] or phone: 0300 555 60 60 (UK callers) or +44 (0) 1392 723044 (EU/International callers). Project-specific queries should be directed to the main supervisor.

Funding Notes

The University of Exeter’s MRC Centre for Medical Mycology is inviting applications for a fully-funded PhD studentship to commence in September 2022 or as soon as possible thereafter. This award provides annual funding for eligible UK or UK-resident students to cover Home tuition fees in full and a tax-free stipend of at least £15,609 per year for 4 years of full-time study, or pro rata for part-time study.
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